Publication Cover
Social Work Education
The International Journal
Volume 41, 2022 - Issue 8
CrossRef citations to date

Using the Hackathon Model in Social Work Education

Pages 1563-1576 | Received 17 Nov 2020, Accepted 25 Mar 2021, Published online: 12 Apr 2021


A recent innovation adapted from the world of commercial computer hacking is known as a Hackathon event. Hackathons are characterized by problem-solving in small groups, under time pressure, to develop creative solutions to a challenging problem. This paper presents the evaluation of a Hackathon applied in two courses on trauma-informed practice (one BSW and the other at MSW level). Students (N = 57) developed interventions to address group and community trauma presented in case studies. Social work doctoral students served as judges (N = 5), evaluated the presentations and selected the winning team. The evaluation showed that the students and judges felt that the Hackathon promoted learning, creativity, teamwork and the incorporation of concepts learned in the course. The competitiveness and being judged were viewed as negative aspects by the students and the judges concurred that the competition detracted from the educational experience. More research is needed on how to apply the Hackathon model to other types of social work curricula including the teaching of various research methods. The current COVID-19 pandemic is challenging the social work profession to address its myriad social implications. How to adapt social work practice toward the incorporation of e-therapy and e-consultation might benefit from Hackathon brainstorming.


As social work educators, we are challenged to step out of our comfort zones to incorporate teaching methods that actively engage students in the learning process. Learning theory suggests that students gain from opportunities for cooperative learning which occurs when students engage in discussion, practice and learning from their peers (Slavin, Citation2019; Steiner et al., Citation1999). Innovative methods to promote this type of educational engagement can be incorporated from the world of informational and computer technology (Cwikel et al., Citation2010; McInroy, Citation2019; Mishna et al., Citation2013).

One type of dynamic learning process is the Hackathon, which is commonly used in business and high tech to promote group problem-solving and has recently made inroads into education (Kienzler & Fontanesi, Citation2017). This paper presents this method, describes how it is relevant to learning theory and social work education practice, and gives an example of how it was used in the context of teaching social work students how to plan trauma-informed interventions. The Hackathon was conducted in two classes (one in a BSW and one in an MSW course) and the evaluation of this educational process is presented. The paper closes with a discussion of how to integrate this innovation into social work education, with specific suggestions on it’s applicability in the current era of increased long-distance learning.

Literature review

Hackathon, what is it and how is it applied in education?

The word ‘Hackathon’ derives from a combination of ‘hack’ and ‘marathon’, where ‘hack’ is represents exploratory and investigative programming from the world of hackers, carried on in an intensive fashion–‘thon’ (Briscoe, Citation2014; Gubin et al., Citation2017). Hackathons are time-limited events where participants meet in small groups to tackle civic, social, and ecological issues, promote projects and learning, and produce innovative solutions (Angarita & Nolte, Citation2020; Angelidis et al., Citation2016). Hackathons were developed to inspire creativity and innovation, to promote ‘thinking outside the box’, establish collaborations, networking, mentoring, and hands-on engagement in complicated projects and problems (Abdullah & Mtsweni, Citation2015; Calco & Veeck, Citation2015). Hackathons originated as problem-focused computer-programming events designed to produce a computer program, model or product prototype. However, the Hackathon has also emerged as an effective way to encourage innovation incorporating digital technologies in a wide variety of strata such as health, community development, and education (Angelidis et al., Citation2016; Briscoe, Citation2014; Gubin et al., Citation2017).

For example, a Hackathon was used in an undergraduate course (Introduction to Global Health) taught in a Department of Social Sciences to stimulate the transfer of knowledge from theory to practice (Kienzler & Fontanesi, Citation2017). In another example, the Hackathon was used to teach undergraduate and graduate students, essential skills for developing medical innovations. The Hackathon brought together interdisciplinary teams of medical, design, business, and engineering students and professionals to develop solutions to unmet clinical needs. The teams presented their proposals to a panel of judges and the winning teams were awarded prizes. Participants in this Hackathon reported gaining significant knowledge for medical innovation development (Wang et al., Citation2018).

How Hackathons are organized?

In education, a Hackathon is a planned event that brings together students in small groups to work intensively on a common topic, with time pressure and competition built into the sessions to encourage focused group learning, with immediate feedback from the teachers or organizers. The most common elements that characterize educational Hackathons are students are divided into small groups, work intensively in a short time frame, in a centralized location where there is technical and/or refreshment support (Lara et al., Citation2015). The work of the students in the Hackathon can last anywhere from several hours to several days (Briscoe, Citation2014). The short Hackathons (several hours) are sometimes called “mini-Hackathons”.

Usually, each team is assigned to a classroom space with whiteboards or large paper stands and markers that they can use for brainstorming. Also, all classrooms must have electrical outlets and wireless internet access (Lara et al., Citation2015). At the end of the Hackathon, there is a class meeting when each group presents their results. Sometimes a panel of judges also grade the presentations and select the winning team. At many Hackathons, the judges are the organizers or sponsors of the event. However, judges can also be peers and colleagues from the field. Often winning teams are awarded a group prize, enhancing the contest-type like atmosphere. Hackathons require educational staff comfortable with working informally with people in small teams, as well as support persons with strong computer programming skills (Abdullah & Mtsweni, Citation2015). While some aspects of the Hackathon resemble a case = study conducted during classroom time, the competition, time pressure, group presentations and panel of judges who bestow assessments and prizes makes the Hackathon a unique educational experience. Furthermore, the intensity of the small group interactions and the joint learning experience also differentiate the Hackathon format from an in-class test or quiz.

Relevancy of Hackathon to learning theory

Contrary to what we may think as lecturers, learning theory and applied research suggests that students learn more from small group discussion, role-play, teaching others and active engagement rather than listening to frontal lectures (Dodds et al., Citation2018; Hasson & Sellers, Citation2019). Cooperative learning has roots in the teaching methods of John Dewey in the early 1900s and promotes interdependence to reach group goals by students supporting and teaching each other. This enhances responsibility, group identity, critical thinking, accepting the ideas of others and social skills (Dodds et al., Citation2018; Gillies, Citation2016; Slavin, Citation2019; Steiner et al., Citation1999).

The Hackathon allows participants to learn through building on their own experiences and learning from others’ experiences. The participants learn through dialogue and reflection to generate new ideas and solutions to problems, such as those they will meet in social work practice (Wilson et al., Citation2019). This pedagogy of cooperative learning, hones skills in assessment, intervention, program planning and problem-solving, which are essential in social work practice (Angelidis et al., Citation2016; Steiner et al., Citation1999).

Practice-focused social work courses have the tendency to challenge students’ own values and experiences while the size and public nature of many classes precludes working through personal reactions to the material (Mersky et al., Citation2019; Moulding, Citation2010; Strand et al., Citation2014). Thus, working in small groups, using focused discussion can help to validate the experiences and positions of those who come from different backgrounds, thus promoting cultural sensitivity with regard to social work issues and practice (Strand et al., Citation2014).

Social workers often must respond to social needs arising from new social realities. Therefore, innovation competencies are crucial for social workers, and various training programs have adopted methodologies to prepare social workers to design adequate answers for challenges in today’s social work practice (e.g. Cavalcante et al., Citation2019). Socially oriented Hackathons propose solutions for issues of current social concern, such as improving public services or crisis management (Briscoe, Citation2014).

A recent study showed the benefits and the challenges of a university-based Hackathons to train social work students, especially in the area of addressing emerging social issues (Wilson et al., Citation2019). On the one hand, students appreciated the differing views and creative ideas others brought to the group, and felt comfortable learning from others. On the other hand, there were groups that struggled to identify a specific problem to focus on, and then to propose a feasible solution.

How to enhance the learning experience of the Hackathon?

In the Hackathon model, students are expected to work under time pressure, and to present their work to the class in a compelling way. However, not all students will necessarily succeed in such circumstances, as some students perform poorly under time pressure and in competition. One of the challenges of the Hackathon is how to determine and measure success? Is success measured by the winning product presented at the conclusion of the event? Or, is the most important outcome, the participants’ learning experience? If so, then the Hackathon must include an assessment of the impact of the experience as judged by the participants (Angelidis et al., Citation2016). This raises questions about the suitability of cooperative learning strategies as applied in the Hackathon model (Briscoe, Citation2014).

For this reason, one of the principles of cooperative learning is that while attaining shared goals through learning in small groups is important, failure to succeed can be a valuable educational experience as well. Participant teams should be encouraged to report pitfalls and failures in order to construct future roadmaps for overcoming difficulties, along with presenting their accomplishments (Briscoe, Citation2014). Beyond the effect that Hackathons have through the solutions they generate, they also provide authentic learning experiences that simulate real professional quandaries. The group process helps to promote a sense of mastery and confidence in the application of new knowledge and skills. In some cases, supportive professional and social networks may be formed through the Hackathon exposure, providing an additional resource for students transitioning into professional practice (Angelidis et al., Citation2016).

An example of applying the Hackathon in social work education:

Procedure and sample

In the framework of teaching a semester course on trauma-informed practice for social workers, the Hackathon was used to help students move from theoretical material acquired through lectures, group discussions and reading throughout the semester, to thinking about how to set up interventions in the case of group or community trauma events.

The first author attended a three-hour training by the curriculum development unit of the University on the principles of using Hackathon as a teaching tool. The advantages emphasized in the training were that it helps to encourage attendance and engagement in classes and that it is particularly effective for challenging students to apply the theoretical material they have learned to real world problems (Abdullah & Mtsweni, Citation2015). An example was presented of a Hackathon for education teachers to encourage curriculum development to address controversial subject matters. A literature review showed that Hackathons had been used in teaching health sciences but rarely in the social sciences (Angelidis et al., Citation2016; Kienzler & Fontanesi, Citation2017; Maaravi, Citation2018).

Moving from theory to practice is necessary to develop confidence and skills in trauma-informed practice for social workers at both the last year of the BSW and in the second year of the MSW. Both courses had been taught before, using a variety of teaching methods: role-play, viewing short movies, didactic lectures, introducing rating scales to assess trauma based on different theoretical approaches, small group discussion on topics such as self-care during trauma treatment, and in-class exercises to teach interventions such as mindfulness and relaxation techniques in order to sustain interest in this challenging subject matter (Cameron & Este, Citation2008; Dodds et al., Citation2018; Gilin & Kauffman, Citation2015; Mersky et al., Citation2019; Moulding, Citation2010). The addition of the Hackathon to consolidate learning goals in these courses was an opportunity for social work students to develop skills in planning interventions in the case of community traumatic events. A small grant by the university’s educational innovation unit paid for computer support, writing materials for the groups, prizes for the participants, small gifts for the judges, and ordering pizza during the Hackathon.

The Hackathons were each three hours long and were the second to last class in two one-semester university courses (BSW and MSW) on trauma-informed practice, which took place in the Spring of 2018. The students were advised about the Hackathon in advance and shown a PowerPoint presentation explaining the Hackathon method, together with materials relating to their final assignment, which was similar to the case study in the Hackathon. Thus, there was an incentive to prepare for and participate in the Hackathon. There was almost complete attendance by the students (one student was unable to attend for health reasons). Because it was experimental, no grades from Hackathon were included in the final grade; however, participation in the Hackathon was given course credit (25%).

The classes were each divided into groups of four, with an effort made to include students from different backgrounds and academic levels in each group. The groups were presented with the same case problem and were asked to prepare an individual, group and community response to address the needs of those who were traumatized, evaluate the level of mental health symptoms and prevent future trauma responses. The cases were of peer bullying in a junior high school (in the BSW course) (see Appendix for the text) or coping with the stress of parents whose children were engaged in active duty during a national military operation, while at the same time the town itself was under rocket attack (MSW class). (See the Appendix for a template for preparing Hackathon cases).

The students were given an hour and a half to prepare their group PowerPoint presentations and directed to relevant materials on the class website. After a break in which pizza and drinks were delivered, the groups presented their suggested interventions. The order in which the groups presented was randomly determined. As advised beforehand, most students brought their laptop computers and thus the paper scratchboards were barely used. The curriculum development personnel provided computer support during the Hackathon to ensure that all the groups could connect to a central computer and present their findings at the end of the event.

Doctoral students in social work, who were experienced in trauma treatment attended as judges and evaluated the presentations (a total of six student judges plus the course instructor). They gave ratings to all the groups on how well the treatment plan was conceptualized and presented and the extent to which it was based on theoretical approaches in trauma treatment. At the end, one group was selected as the winning group after totaling the judges’ ratings. This group was awarded gift certificates for the campus bookstore.

The two classes of students and the judges were invited to fill in an anonymous questionnaire at the end of the Hackathon in order to evaluate their experiences. Informed consent was obtained for the questionnaires, and no student or judge was required to fill out the evaluation form (4 students and one judge did not fill in forms), thus the final sample included 57 students and five judges. The study was approved by the Spitzer Department of Social Work, Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Ethics Committee.

Evaluation methods of the Hackathon as a learning experience

A mixed methods research design was used, given that we wanted to both hear about the educational experiences of the students (qualitative) and gauges their satisfaction with the Hackathon (quantitative) (Creswell & Clark, Citation2017; Wei & Lin, Citation2017). In addition, the judges answered qualitative questions regarding their experience.

Research instruments

The research questions explored how participants evaluated the Hackathon model as a learning experience and what they would suggest changing in future Hackathon events. Students answered a series of closed-ended quantitative assessment questions along with open qualitative questions on their experience.

The questionnaire of 12 closed questions was developed by the authors based on features of the Hackathon (e.g. that the Hackathon encourages creativity that the time pressure encourages group process) on a 10 point Likert scale, with 1—this was not educational at all to 10—this enriched the educational experience (See the statements in ). In addition, there were five open-ended questions where participants were invited to reflect on their experience: what were their thoughts and feelings about the Hackathon, did it meet their expectations, what aspects they liked/didn’t like, and what changes would they suggest.

Table 1. Learning from the Hackathon model (means, standard deviations) N = 57.

Also, there were 10 open-ended questions where the judges were invited to reflect on their experience. These questions included evaluating their experience observing the students as they were given the task, when the students were asked to submit their group product, evaluating the presentations, selecting of the winning group and announcing the winning group. In addition, they were asked their thoughts and feelings about the hackathon, did it meet their expectations, what aspects they liked and did not like and what changes they would suggest. These qualitative comments were combined into categories using content analysis (Gale et al., Citation2013) and then presented as quantitative answers in order to summarize the comments.

Analysis methods

In analyzing the quantitative questionnaire, we first assessed whether there was any significant difference between the mean ratings of the two groups of students (MSW and BSW) on the twelve items. When we found there were no significant differences between the groups, we analyzed the student data as a combined sample. Descriptive univariate analyses were conducted. The answers shown in present the mean level of agreement to the statements with an average of 5 and above indicating a positive response.

In analyzing the quantitative questionnaire, we used the framework method to investigate the participants’ learning experience during the Hackathon event (Parkinson et al., Citation2016). This method classifies qualitative data into categories that have been developed by researchers associated with the underlying theory or approach. During the analysis process, codes were clustered around similar and interrelated concepts, which in our evaluation reflected the suitability of the Hackathon to cooperative learning approaches to achieve the educational goals. The framework created a structure for the data that summarized the data in a way that lent itself to answering the research questions (Gale et al., Citation2013).


shows that students reported a positive evaluation (an average of five or higher) for 8 out of the 12 aspects of the Hackathon. These included that it encouraged creativity, working on the case problem was an educational experience, it was a different way of teaching, good results came from working under time pressure, the Hackathon successfully applied material taught in the course and being able to learn despite distractions. Students reported an average of four and less and thus negatively evaluated the following aspects: learning from the judges, the competitiveness, the sense of contest, and the prize at the end of the Hackathon. The overall mean was 5.5 (s.d. = 2.04).

Coded qualitative questions

We categorized the qualitative answers in order to give group ratings. Similar to the quantitative results we found that 61% stated that the Hackathon was a challenging and educational experience while 39% said it was boring and repetitive. For example, some commented ‘It was creative and innovative’,” It was a welcome change in routine”, ‘It was meaningful and unique’, while others commented: ‘I did not like the approach’, ‘The presentations were boring’.

As to whether the Hackathon was different than expected: 44% were without specific expectations, 30% thought the Hackathon was appropriate and interesting, while 26% thought it was long, required different educational methods, was intense or unclear. Participants noted their favorite part of the Hackathon: 48% cited teamwork, 40% cited the investment from the lecturer and judges, the help provided during the Hackathon, and 12% cited listening to presentations and peer learning. For example, they commented: ‘The favorite part was working together as a group’, ‘The favorite part was that you, the lecturer, invested time and effort in us’ ‘The food and the help from the judges’, and ‘Hearing my friends’ presentations’.

Participants were also asked what part they liked less. Of the participants, 44% said they did not like the time pressure, 25% were afraid to present in front of everyone, 17% did not like the feeling of competition, 10% noted they did not understand the instructions for the Hackathon, and 4% did not like having to work with a group whose members they did not choose. For example, they commented: ‘I had limited time, I needed more time’, ‘I did not like the rating and scores’, ‘I did not know what was expected from me’, and ‘I did not like the random groups’.

Suggestions for improvement: 45% recommended giving a more detailed explanation before and during the Hackathon, 34% recommended adding more time, 8% recommended giving more than one case to analyze, 8% recommended including the Hackathon score in the final grade and 5% suggested letting the students chose their group. For example, they commented: ‘to give a clearer assignment’, ‘read the materials in advance’ ‘better explanations during the Hackathon’, ‘give more time’, ‘allow us to work on different cases’, ‘allow us to choose a group’, and ‘it should have been part of the grade’.

Judges’ experience of the Hackathon and as judges

Five of the six judges filled out an evaluation of the Hackathon experience regarding the Hackathon from their point of view as an educational experience and to mention what they liked and didn’t like about the event. From a content analysis of their answers, we found that two of the judges felt that the students were confused about their assignment while one experienced them as serious and focused. For example, they commented: ‘The students were sometimes confused about the procedures for the presentation’. and ‘The students took the assignment very seriously and made quality presentations’.

Four of the judges felt the students were stressed about having to present their ideas, and one other felt they were excited. Comments included ‘The presentation to the group was made by one student as others seemed stressed out’. ‘The groups were excited to express their ideas’. At the stage that the presentations were rated, two of the judges thought the student’s presentations were practical but not creative, another two saw differences in student abilities and one felt responsibility as a judge. Their comments included ‘The presentations could have been more creative and used theory in a more integrated fashion’, ‘There were significant differences between the groups in their presentations’. and ‘I felt honored and responsible being a judge’.

When the judge needed to select a winner, two of them felt confusion about the process and other two felt it was a collaborative effort from all the judges. Two felt discomfort when announcing the winning team and thus not acknowledging groups that had also presented very well, while one felt empathy for the other groups.

For example, the comments were ‘The criteria for selection were not clear’. ‘The group discussion with the other judges was an integrative process’, ‘I felt that the groups who didn’t get a prize were disappointed’, and ‘All the groups presented interesting proposals and I didn’t feel comfortable having to choose one winning group’.

Three of the judges answered that the Hackathon was no different than expected; while two felt it was different. They expected to see outcomes that were more creative and were surprised over the judgment process. Three thought that the Hackathon was not creative while two stated it was a great way for brainstorming. Yet, four mentioned that their favorite part of the Hackathon was brainstorming, and one judge felt that the students were challenged to think outside the box. Example comments were ‘The Hackathon really encouraged group processes and brainstorming’, ‘I enjoyed seeing the creative solutions that the groups presented’, and ‘The presentations could have been more innovative’.

One of the judges mentioned that he did not like the encouragement of competitiveness, three noted they did not like students who stuck to their prepared PowerPoint presentations, and one did not like the scoring method for the judges. Two of the judges suggested presenting the Hackathon model to students from other fields, two suggested allowing more time in order to encourage the creative presentation and one suggested changing the scoring method. Three of the judges stated they planned to use the Hackathon model in their future courses. Example comments were ‘I am not sure the competitiveness was helpful to the students’, ‘I wasn’t sure about the scoring method for the judges’, and ‘The students needed more time and then they could have been more creative’.


The use of the Hackathon as a teaching method for BSW and MSW social work students showed that this innovation had both positive and negative aspects for both students and judges. Curricula in schools of social work usually fall short of engaging students in interdisciplinary idea development. Hackathons, with their focus on solution generation and active participation, may guide social work students in a nontraditional, applied, innovative format and can offer a venue for training social work students in creative thinking, interdisciplinary teamwork, and project management (Wilson et al., Citation2019). There is a need for innovations in social work education and these characteristics can be enhanced in an educational experience using the Hackathon event.

The Hackathon requires planning and organizing the social work curricula to suit the needs of small groups needing to brainstorm in a constrained time-frame. Judging by the feedback, overall, the students and the judges found that it was a positive educational experience; specifically that it encouraged creativity, brainstorming and teamwork and was successful in incorporating material from the course. However, time pressure was judged by some to be a positive element and for others, this was not a helpful aspect. This is in accord with the variety of learning styles that social work students typically demonstrate (Williams et al., Citation2013).

While encouraging creativity, teamwork, and an unusual learning experience, the competitive aspects of the Hackathon, derived from the business world, were not well received by most of the students and the judges. Interestingly enough, it is precisely the elements that derive from the world of computer programming and hacking that were the most problematic for social work students: the competitiveness, the judges, and the contest atmosphere with prizes (Richterich, Citation2019). Richterich (Citation2019) adapted the model by using symbolic prizes only and using peer student judges. Thus, in applying the Hackathon to social work education, we would suggest foregoing the prize given to one group and giving feedback that is more specific from the judges to each group about how they could improve their proposals. Also, we suggest providing more time for the groups to work on their presentations so as to neutralize the negative reactions to the time pressure.


In essence, Hackathon is another variation on how to promote an engaged, challenging yet cooperative group experience in the classroom, using both time pressure and competition as ways to encourage small group problem-solving. More research is needed on how to apply the Hackathon to other types of social work curricula, such as courses on group, community work, and applied research methods. The use of a modified version of the Hackathon event without prizes and toning down the competition may be more compatible with social work values. Future research should investigate whether it can be applied to all types of social work intervention and research courses, where there is a need to program plan and address new types of challenges that might arise in the field.

Social work is now being asked to address the myriad social implications of the COVID-19 pandemic. For example, social workers are being challenged by COVID-19 as it affects older adults (Brennan et al., Citation2020; Pestine-Stevens & Greenfield, Citation2020), those who have lost friends and family members to the virus and are grieving (Johns et al., Citation2020), reaching children and families at risk (Cook & Zschomler, Citation2020) and meeting the needs of women at risk of domestic violence (Davis et al., Citation2020). The need to increasingly adapt social work practice toward the use of e-therapy and tele-treatment was a challenge to social work education both before and during the COVID-19 crisis and might benefit from hackathon brainstorming (Cwikel & Friedmann, Citation2019; Wilkerson et al., Citation2020). A hackathon event might be organized to gather input on how social work educators teaching in different venues and at different levels (BSW, MSW and PhD) need to adapt to these new challenges in the framework of relevant social work courses.

Furthermore, because of COVID-19 and social distancing, many social work educational frameworks are now moving into on-line, synchronous, and a-synchronous learning environments. The Hackathon lends itself to working in ‘break-out rooms’ and the ability to share screens in the classrooms is an appropriate tool for using Hackathon methods. However, it is not clear whether these distant-learning methods are effective in promoting the creative work that live interactions in small groups engender and this would be an interesting avenue for further research.

We encourage other social work educators to adapt the model to suit their classrooms and curricula and to meet the challenges of COVID-19 and distance learning. The time pressure and working in small groups to develop an intervention through focused problem-solving is often the nature of social work practice in the real world outside of academia, especially in addressing community and national traumatic events. There are many multidisciplinary challenges ahead of social workers: adapting to climate change and new emerging infectious diseases such as COVID-19 (Kienzler & Fontanesi, Citation2017; Paul, Citation2020; Richterich, Citation2019) which may be suitable for addressing through the use of the Hackathon model.

Author agreement statement

We declare that this manuscript is original, has not been published before, and is not currently being considered for publication elsewhere. We confirm that the manuscript has been read and approved by all authors and that there are no other persons who satisfied the criteria for authorship but are not listed. We further confirm that the order of authors listed in the manuscript has been approved by both of us.

Ethics approval and consent to participate

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee (The Spitzer Department of Social Work, Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Ethics Committee) and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

This article does not contain any studies with animals performed by any of the authors.

Availability of data and materials

The datasets used and/or analyzed during the current study are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.


The authors received a small grant from the Ben Gurion University unit for the promotion of educational methods. We would like to thank the student judges and want to acknowledge the contribution of Dr. Yael Lin to the success of the Hackathon events.

Disclosure statement

No potential conflict of interest was reported by the author(s).

Additional information


This work was supported by the Ben Gurion University.

Notes on contributors

Julie Cwikel

Julie Cwikel is the Chilewich Chair of Social Integration in the Spitzer Department of Social Work in Ben Gurion University of the Negev.  A social epidemiologist, she is the author of the textbook “Social Epidemiology: Strategies for Public Health Activism„ (Columbia University Press, 2005) and over 150 articles and book chapters.  She is the founder and director of BGU's Center for Women's Health Studies and Promotion, which conducts cutting edge research on women's health and provides psychotherapy services that are gender and culturally sensitive and a program that supports new mothers in the first year after the birth of a new child.

Meital Simhi

Meital Simhi MSW, PhD. is a Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Department of Counseling and School Psychology at UMass Boston.  Her research interests include multi-cultural factors in perinatal mental health.


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Template for writing a Hackathon case study

Case example from BSW course on trauma intervention

The junior high school principal and school counselor of your town have requested your help in working with a group of 8th graders who have become victims to a series of events that have happened in the past month. The events they know about are these: two groups of 8th grade girls are in conflict, and this conflict has brought about physical fights between girls and boys in this grade during the lunch break. Some girls have complained that photographs were taken of them when they were changing clothes for gym class and some of these photographs were posted to the school website together with derogatory remarks. The bullying and class conflict have become so acute that one girl, whose photographs were posted on the website, attempted suicide by slashing her wrists when she was at a sleepover party of one of her friends from the class.

  1. You are requested to propose a method of:

    1. Evaluating the students for their risk of being adversely affected by these events, using methods and tools we discussed in class,

    2. Intervening with those students and members of their social networks who were most affected by the trauma and

    3. A method of working with the whole class to prevent future events of this nature.

You are strongly encouraged to use materials covered in class but you are NOT limited to these materials. Please use your computers to search for additional relevant materials.

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